Stingers Men’s Rugby Come Out Strong in Home Opener

Team Builds on Last Season’s Momentum in Blowout Over Sherbrooke Vert-et-Or

  • The Stingers dominated the game 66-7. Photo Lily Cowper.

  • The two teams got heated but finished the game without major incident. Photo Lily Cowper.

The Stingers men’s rugby team established themselves as a worthy competitor in Friday night’s home opener against Université de Sherbrooke’s Vert-et-Or.

The team came out in full force, scoring try after try and managing to hold off the Sherbrooke offence when they came knocking on their door, handing their opponents a crushing 66-7 defeat.

The team that head coach Craig Beemer fielded Friday looked much like last year’s seemingly unbeatable squad, who went undefeated on the season and took home the provincial championship. Add to the mix a few new faces with talent that can only develop from here, and you’ve got a recipe for a similar season to last year.

“We really didn’t have to start from scratch so we sort of just built on the momentum from last year,” said Beemer. “You’ve got guys like Charles DeBove who was the [Réseau de sport étudiant du Québec] MVP last season, and Lucas Hotton who’s our captain this year. Then you’ve got a lot of rookies coming in with a lot of talent and now I bet there’s a few starters that are going ‘Uh oh!’ and that breeds a lot of competition.”

The driving force for the team in this game lies in how their season ended last year—with a pair of tough losses at Nationals.

“We definitely got humbled a little bit in the National Championships last year and I think you definitely saw that that was in the back of their minds,” said Beemer. “There’s a lot of pride that we have in this season going forward, it’s not necessarily about the teams we play against, it’s about what we want to do.”

Despite their seemingly flawless execution in this game, and the way they just kept scoring, coach Beemer feels this wasn’t quite the game they had in mind going in.

“Believe it or not we didn’t actually do what we wanted to in the first half,” he said. “We just had a very emotional, we’ll say testosterone-filled first half where we saw that we have a lot of talented players.”

“There’s a lot of pride that we have in this season going forward. It’s not necessarily about the teams we play against, it’s about what we want to do.” — Craig Beemer

Testosterone-filled would be the right way to describe how the first half played out. Tensions ran high in the final few minutes of the half as the two teams exchanged words between plays. The Sherbrooke side, exhausted and egos bruised from the beating their opponents were handing them, engaged the Stingers side, resulting in a small scuffle which would soon be broken up by the officials with no cards handed to either side.

Beemer felt that the team should have focused more on the technical side of their game rather than the physical side and just “running over the opposition.”

“[This strategy] worked tonight, but it doesn’t always work,” he said. “I’m really proud of the guys, but we’ve got some work to do.”

The team is looking to build on a 7-0 regular season record. Photo Lily Cowper.

Another notable moment from Friday’s matchup was the debut of highly touted rookie Thomas Goetz, who definitely made his mark on the field.

“Thomas is extremely athletic,” said Beemer of the young player. “He’s always going to put his body on the line and the crazy thing is he’s got a lot to learn.”

The head coach believes that Goetz, because of his level of skill, sometimes tries to do too much but that they’re working on that. Goetz will continue to grow and develop within this program and hopefully emerge an even better player for it.

“From what you see tonight, I think he’s going to be a totally different player by the end of the season,” he said.

Goetz feels he performed well overall, but that there’s always room for improvement, like his coach said.

“It’s the first game of the season and I’m new to the team,” said Goetz. “We have to get everybody used to each other, but I hope that I will improve my level [of play] game by game.”

The Stingers look to build upon Friday’s success as they head into their second game of the season against the École de technologie supérieure Piranhas on Friday Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. at Collège Notre-Dame.

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